The album title ‘LASLAFARIA’ is borrowed from the Swiss Guggenmusig orchestra of the same name. ‘Laslafaria’ (the band) was founded in 1962 by a diverse group of creative young adults that included my uncle, Werner Amsler, and my father, Henri Amsler. My mother, Karin Moos, joined in 1968. The term ‘Guggenmusig’ is a reference to an ensemble that includes a group of people playing simple folk tunes, pop and children’s songs on a variety of percussion and brass instruments. In the case of Laslafaria some members were trained musicians while others had never played an instrument before. The songs were played loud, clear and recognisably and (perhaps with intent) not always in perfect pitch. Since Guggenmusig is traditionally played during Fasnacht, the Swabian-Alemannic carnival season, the performers were also usually adorned in carnival-inspired costumes.
The most common explanation of the word ‘Gugge’ is that it may derive from the Alemannic ‘Sack/Tüte’, meaning ‘bag’. Other unsourced explanations include the word used for a small children’s trumpet, that in Swiss German is the word for ‘scream’ or the call of a cuckoo bird. The word ‘Laslafaria’ refers to the German sentence ‘Lass es Fahren’ or in English, ‘Let it go.’
It is important to establish that Laslafaria was not only a 50 members strong orchestra but also an artistic and almost anti-political movement. They cultivated elements from Dadaism such as initially rejecting the logic, reason, and aestheticism of a modern capitalist society, instead expressing nonsense, irrationality, and anti-bourgeois protest in their works. In addition to that, they were also quite simply a mixture of people with an overload of crazy creative ideas who liked to hang out and have fun.
Growing up half-Swiss, half-Danish, and being the daughter of two Laslafaria members, this Laslafarian mentality was always around, somehow. At home, we had two of their albums in our record collection standing alongside The Beatles and Wagner. I remember listening to these particular LP’s over and over again with great curiosity. I had never heard anything like that before and was completely fascinated. It was like an undefeatable force of sound. An enchanting unbothered-yet-proud mentality wrapped in brass and drums. I remember imagining it was what American football might sound like if it was only audio and not a physical sport. Over the years, the essence of Laslafaria became a manifestation of the power of imperfection for me, a secret weapon for battling challenging days, an illumination of respect shown to things that might at first seem unimportant or silly but by giving them attention become important and genuine. Laslafaria reminds me that anyone and anything can make a valuable contribution at any time.
My idea was to take that energy and channel it into the creation of this album. I wanted to include everything from cheap-keyboards-running-low-on-batteries to the sound of a MIDI flute and a poorly-written, inconvenient melody that was ‘supposed’ to have been previously discarded. I offered these ordinarily outcasts of instruments and sounds my fullest attention, putting each one on a musical pedestal, and blending them with hifi recordings of my homemade micro-guitars, a beautiful sounding bridge in the town of Elsinore, a handful of my absolute favourite musicians and much more. Throughout the process of sculpting the compositions, all sound-elements were handled with the utmost care (and sometimes calculated carelessness). In some cases, polished to an almost psychopathic extent. In other cases, they were kept untreated as completely raw ingredients. All this, melted together with my blurry childhood memories of our annual trips to Switzerland – the beautiful landscapes, mountains, lakes, and woods. Funicular railways, cowbells and army knives joining forces, weaving a tapestry of my reflections on the LASLAFARIA ideology and gradually became the music you can hear on this album.
Music by Katrine Amsler
Recorded, mixed and produced by Katrine Amsler
Additional mix by August Wanngren
Post processing by Martin Stig Andersen
Master by Morten Bue
Artwork by Jan Oksbøl Callesen
A huge thank you to the musicians on this album :
Qarin Wikström , Samuel Hällkvist, Nils Berg, Josef Kallerdahl,
Knut Finsrud,Frederik Hauch, Sture Ericson, Stephan Sieben, Mike Højgaard.
And a special thanks to all members of the Laslafaria orchestra
This album was made with financial support from the Swedish arts council